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Over the years, the British Art Show has captured numerous significant moments in the nation’s art history and has promoted the careers of many who have gone on to become household names, including Anthony Caro, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George, Steve McQueen, Chris Ofili and Damien Hirst. This year, the exhibition, curated by Anna Colin and Lydia Yee, comprises work by 42 artists, 26 of whom have made new commissions and many others of whom are presenting works that have never been shown in the UK.
Studio International spoke to five of the artists involved.
Ciara Phillips – one of last year’s Turner Prize nominees – is a Glasgow-based Canadian artist who uses printmaking as a way of bringing about socio-political discussions. With a curatorial focus this year on collaboration, BAS8 has provided Phillips with an opportunity to run community print workshops and create a publication based on the Irregular Bulletin, a newsletter produced in the late 50s/early 60s by radical educator and artist Corita Kent and her colleague, Sister Magdalene Mary.
Laure Prouvost, the London-based French artist who won the 2013 Turner Prize, is showcasing three of her “interruptions” – sound and light pieces that turn on and off at intervals, humorously giving voice to a range of objects, including a hard drive, a fan and a croissant.
Ryan Gander, who lives and works in Suffolk and London, is displaying a range of works including sculpture, film and a wallpapered diorama, comprising notes he makes to himself on his studio walls. His carved pieces explore the concept of still life, like Prouvost’s, bringing together improbable objects into imaginary dialogues.
Feed Me is the first feature-length film work by Scottish artist Rachel Maclean. With Maclean playing all of the characters, with wild and wacky costumes and facemasks, the plotline veers from the saccharine to the horrific, tearing down contemporary society and its vices along the way. Pop culture references abound and the Disney-like effect is a facade for the Grimms’ fairytale beneath.
Last but not least, Martino Gamper is a London-based Italian designer who describes his artisanal approach as “conceptual and functional”. His participatory project, Post Forma, has been commissioned by Yorkshire Festival and Hayward Touring, in partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle and Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme. Gamper’s mixture of craft, design and art – furniture-making, cobbling, weaving and bookbinding – fits this year’s curatorial emphasis on materiality and the importance of objects, not just as objects, but as vehicles for narratives.
British Art Show 8
Leeds Art Gallery
9 October 2015 – 10 January 2016
Interview by ANNA McNAY
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY